Skip to main content

Bruce Alan Sullenger, PhD

Joseph W. and Dorothy W. Beard Distinguished Professor of Experimental Surgery, in the School of Medicine
Professor of Surgery
Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology
Professor of Neurosurgery
Office: 120 Serrano Way, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
Campus Mail: DUMC Box 103035, Durham, NC 27710

The main focus of my translational research laboratory is to develop RNA based therapeutic agents for the potential treatment of a range of diseases. To this end, we have and will continue to take advantage of the fact that RNA is not just a passive carrier of genetic instructions inside of cells during the conversion of information from DNA to RNA to protein. Rather, RNA is an extremely versatile biological macromolecule. Certian RNAs can bind to specific protiens with high affinities, while others can for catalytic centers and perform enzymatic reactions. These facets of RNA coupled with the ease with which RNA can be manipulated in vitro make it a very powerful and unique therapeutic agent whose potential is largely untapped. Durring our endeavors, we plan to work closely with the members of the Molecular Therapeutics program as well as other faculty at the Duke University Medical Center to expedite the development and testing of these therapeutics.

The specific aims of my laboratory are:

1. To isolate and characterize RNA and DNA aptamers which block therapeutically relavent proteins such as those involved in cardiovascular diseases and immune modulation.

2. To develop RNA-based tumor targeting strategies for delivering siRNAs and miRNAs to tumor cells.

3. To reprogram cells using mRNA delivery.

4. To explore novel methods to control inflammation.

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., Cornell University, 1990

Selected Grants


Lee, Jaewoo, Claudia M. Dollins, David Boczkowski, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Smita Nair. “Activated B cells modified by electroporation of multiple mRNAs encoding immune stimulatory molecules are comparable to mature dendritic cells in inducing in vitro antigen-specific T-cell responses.” Immunology 125, no. 2 (October 2008): 229–40.

Full Text

Dollins, Claudia M., Smita Nair, David Boczkowski, Jaewoo Lee, Juliana M. Layzer, Eli Gilboa, and Bruce A. Sullenger. “Assembling OX40 aptamers on a molecular scaffold to create a receptor-activating aptamer.” Chem Biol 15, no. 7 (July 21, 2008): 675–82.

Full Text

Sarraf-Yazdi, Shiva, Jing Mi, Benjamin J. Moeller, Xilin Niu, Rebekah R. White, Christopher D. Kontos, Bruce A. Sullenger, Mark W. Dewhirst, and Bryan M. Clary. “Inhibition of in vivo tumor angiogenesis and growth via systemic delivery of an angiopoietin 2-specific RNA aptamer.” J Surg Res 146, no. 1 (May 1, 2008): 16–23.

Full Text

White, Rebekah R., Julie A. Roy, Kristi D. Viles, Bruce A. Sullenger, and Christopher D. Kontos. “A nuclease-resistant RNA aptamer specifically inhibits angiopoietin-1-mediated Tie2 activation and function.” Angiogenesis 11, no. 4 (2008): 395–401.

Full Text

Hong, Seung-Hee, Jin-Sook Jeong, Yoon-Jong Lee, Haeng-Im Jung, Kyoung-Sook Cho, Chang-Min Kim, Byung-Su Kwon, Bruce A. Sullenger, Seong-Wook Lee, and In-Hoo Kim. “In vivo reprogramming of hTERT by trans-splicing ribozyme to target tumor cells.” Mol Ther 16, no. 1 (January 2008): 74–80.

Full Text

McNamara, James O., Despina Kolonias, Fernando Pastor, Robert S. Mittler, Lieping Chen, Paloma H. Giangrande, Bruce Sullenger, and Eli Gilboa. “Multivalent 4-1BB binding aptamers costimulate CD8+ T cells and inhibit tumor growth in mice.” J Clin Invest 118, no. 1 (January 2008): 376–86.

Full Text